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Making up the news

We all know just how manipulative, dishonest, sensationalist, gutless, unfair and unbalanced the media is in this country. And it seems at time as though they are simply making up the news.

The Daily Telegraph’s Gemma Jones has been very successful in coming up with some blistering political scoops over the last couple of days that fit that description. She may have a history of such successes, but of this I don’t know as I’ve only noticed her contribution to our political discourse over the past say or so. Given that she is employed by the Murdoch media empire would suggest that she’s a master of political journalism. From what I’ve seen in my rare adventures into reading anything produced by the Murdoch zoo it portrays itself as nothing but a provider of gossip.

The three pieces that Gemma Jones has written, or co-written, over the space of a mere 24 hours confirm my opinions of the rubbish that the Murdoch media specialise in. Stories are fabricated or blown up out of proportion to make them appear as though they are the scoop of the year. These stories may very well be based on facts, and most readers might actually assume that to be the case given the sensationalist and convincing nature of the content.

I would argue that the content, in most cases, is fabricated as are the sources and statements that the articles are built around.

Take this big scoop about the old media favourite: a Rudd challenge to Julia Gillard in the article ‘Ides of March: PM, Rudd set for battle’. The story leads off with:

A final showdown between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd could come within weeks, as tensions in the Labor caucus rose yesterday over the leaking of a letter critical of the former PM.

She gives the story some ‘weight’ by introducing a host of people that could have easily been fabricated, as so might be their alleged statements. Yet they litter almost every paragraph. The paragraphs are below, where I have highlighted the ‘fictitious’ people.

Supporters of Mr Rudd yesterday accused the Gillard supporters of circulating a damaging letter from a member of the public to the media and among the caucus . . .

Claiming it was in retaliation for Mr Rudd’s public attacks over the failed mining tax, several Rudd backers claimed there was now a push within his ranks to “finish the thing before the end of March”.

Mr Rudd has been privately counselled by some of his key backers to pull back from his public campaign for fear it could spark another showdown before they are ready.

And a source close to the PM said Ms Gillard would not rise to the bait and had no intention of goading the former PM while she still had the numbers behind her.

But many in Parliament believe another challenge to Ms Gillard’s leadership is being hatched.

MPs have been seen openly coming and going from Mr Rudd’s office this week.

One Rudd supporter yesterday admitted that the issue was coming to a head but wanted to give the appearance that “nothing was going on”. “There is nothing happening, no counting, nothing going on,” they said. (“They said”? I thought there was only one supporter).

“But it would be fair to say though that a lot of MPs are becoming increasingly despondent about their prospects after the disasters of the past few weeks.”

Another MP, who supports Mr Rudd, said: “Every day is a blow, every day there is something that dents the confidence of members in the leadership . . . “.

An MP who backed Mr Rudd in the leadership ballot last year said caucus members were “shaking their heads” over the $126 million return on the mining tax and reports yesterday that a $4 billion hole could be left in the Budget when the carbon tax moves to an ETS if the price plunges, as predicted.

Just about every paragraph in the first half of the story is built around what an un-named person insists upon. They could be anybody. Perhaps even Piers Akerman’s distinguished eye surgeon. Names are introduced at the end of the article, by which time readers would be the ones “shaking their heads”.

But what I find most interesting is that this article suspiciously appears to be based around something the Opposition’s Julie Bishop had said the day before:

”Beware the Ides of March.” The next meeting of the Labor caucus falls on the week of March 15, she said. Who would be the Prime Minister’s Brutus? Exeunt and end scene.

How convienient. Someone has given Ms Jones a little spur from which to build a story. And in keeping with the Murdoch agenda it was used as an attack against the Government. Kevin Rudd might very well be planning a challenge. I don’t know. But I do know that Ms Jones’ article fails to convince me that it’s a true story. And I find it odd that when Kevin Rudd does come out and publicly state that he’s not interested in a challenge that it appears in news.com without an author referenced. What’s the matter? Can’t Murdoch find any journalists prepared to but their name to a story that might have some truth about it?

Twelve hours later an article from Ms Jones again makes the front page; an article about taxpayers paying for NBN coffee. Jones didn’t make up many names, just the story. On the front page of news.com we read that:

Aussies are frothing at the mouth over news NBN is spending over $164,000 on fancy beans and coffee machines.

You can read her article here, titled Libs foaming over NBN coffee perk. Have a read of the article and tell if you see where it says that Aussies are frothing at the mouth or whether the Libs are foaming over the coffee machines.

Actually, don’t bother, as they aren’t there. It’s just another one of those pathetic headlining bullshit stories that have become the trademark of the Murdoch media. Expect it to get worse as the election nears.

Jones was at it again within 24 hours with this stunner: By-election threat to test PM’s leadership. I ventured in to read the story. As with her recent article about a Rudd challenge it is filled with speculation and un-named sources, which I have highlighted:

The former federal attorney-general is likely to win a job with the NSW Industrial Relations Commission. Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected to argue the resignation would be too close to the September 14 election date for a by-election to be necessary, further fuelling speculation the poll decision was simply a strategy to defend that position.

While the minority government would still have the numbers in parliament to retain power, losing another MP – even without a by-election – would cause a “psychological injury” – as one Labor MP described it.

State government sources have confirmed a decision on Mr McClelland’s job application is as little as one month to two months away. He is understood to be prepared to jump out of parliament immediately to take on the role.

A spokesman for Ms Gillard denied yesterday she had any knowledge of Mr McClelland’s decision when she announced the election date – a day after Mr McClelland announced he was retiring from politics at the next election.

The only piece of remote credibility in those paragraphs is the “spokesman for Ms Gillard”. Ms Jones, should that source not put an end to the speculation you have led us to believe are facts?

Like I noted above, expect it to get worse as the election nears. Much, much worse.

Journalists in our fair country claim we need a better government. I would argue that we need a better media. But I don’t expect that Ms Jones and her employer will bother to lead the way.

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  1. Steve Foy

    Well said Milgo, Ms Jones has a long history of beat up pieces. Nice to see a change of subject though, they’re normally about ‘boat people’ and used to be mainly about ‘the carbon tax’.
    I suspect she is the love child of Alan Jones and Michelle Gratten !!!

  2. Tom of Melbourne

    The history of critics of the media is very mixed, to put it kindly.

    • The reports of Thomson’s behaviour were “baseless media speculation”
    • When Rudd was leaking before the 2010 election, it was “unfounded media speculation”, name the sources critics demanded
    • When Rudd was preparing to challenge it was “media a beat-up”

    There are plenty of other examples too.

    Each story in turn became a fact, and the media was in fact reporting legitimate political intelligence. Would people have preferred that the story of Rudd’s challenge was not reported?

  3. Marcus

    Oh look, here comes Facfless Troll with his usual unsupported crap. Actually, talk of leadersbip has *never* been as rife as it has been since 2010. As for your talk of inxompetence, please provide actual *facts*, not more bull-crap The economy is ticking along very nicely, but Abbott wants to send it into a recession using the “tried & true” tactics of Newman & UK PM Cameron. Meanwhile we have to put up with Abbott’s uncosted thought bubbles on an almost daily basis. That is the hallmark of incompetence in my books.

  4. Marcus

    Really, Tom of Melbourne? The allegations against Thomson are still not proven in a court of law, & Rudd’s challenge came after more than a *year* of media speculation (some might say Rudd only challenged to finally shut the media up). So, Tom, your crap-tastic argument is looking like just more Liberal Party propaganda to me.

  5. heather944

    Couldn’t agree more – I used to type up press releases for my boss to issue to the media when I worked for the RSPCA and it was incredible how what they were given bore no relationship whatsoever to what appeared in print. I can remember my boss pacing his office and fuming wondering if he could sue because in an article that had said “Col Harries said” when he had not said any such thing – hadn’t even spoken to them. It was also interesting how filmed footage could be creatively edited to end up with a story that was the actual opposite to what had actually been the case. I believe very little of what I see on the mainstream media these days as if they can get up to such abuse of the truth on the small stories, Lord knows what they do to the really important issues!

  6. Iain Hall

    leadership speculation is a staple of our political discourse and its always been based upon rumour and off the record muttering of MPs and their staff to various journos. I really don’t know why you think these pieces are any different to the sort of reporting that we got when there was leadership tensions in the coalition.

    In any case you can’t possibly think that such things would have been written had there not been some serious tensions in the very troubled Gillard government. You may fear an Abbott government but perhaps you should consider that a his government can not possibly be less competent that Gillard, who has set the bar so low that you would need to dig a tunnel to go under it.

  7. 730reportland

    ” needs to progressively become more outlandish”
    yep, the embedded media are definitely doing this.
    (advertising gets more dramatic or loud)
    which is why pr/advertiers/lobbyists/journos have morphed into a single identity, journo`s now shill more than report

  8. 730reportland

    Nice post Miglo, l have found Limited-News `bipolar` in the way they distort stuff, so l only venture there when necessary. l consider them a `Lobbying` outfit too, as the writing `style` is more on the creative side and fact-free, rather than `technical` or factual. On the headlines, while sure, they are often misleading, that`s editors who write them, not the journo`s (usually)

  9. 730reportland

    oh yeah, mast-heads don`t really matter, the same derp gets cycled thru, the-oz, terrorgraph, hun and other states equivalent`s

  10. Min

    ToM, actually what was said many many times was, innocent until proven guilty – that “trial by media” perverts the course of justice. Also said was that many a guilty party has been let off scott free due to public and msm speculation which was later stated to have influenced opinion. One Derryn Hinch comes to mind, his speculation and public disclaiming for no other reason than his own notoriety allowed a suspected paedophile to have a miss-trial. Therefore, before people keep bleating on the Thomson Is Guilty meme, what say we allow Thomson to go through the democratic process of a trial by peers.

  11. Truth Seeker

    Migs, another great article 😀

    Steve Foy, although I agree with your comment, did you have to mention Jones and Gratten, the mental image is going to haunt me for days 😯 🙄

    Marcus, dead right, but asking for facts to back up their argument, is like asking Tony Abbott to tell the truth 😯 Just ain’t gonna happen 🙄

    Cheers 🙂 😀

  12. 730reportland

    ” The history of critics of the media is very mixed,”
    bullshit yomm. Study after study show the embedded media are distrusted by the public. Only shills will say otherwise. Go google ajic.

  13. Angela

    naming and shaming all Journalists who write lies and make up stories just for headlines or sensationalism is the only way to stamp out TRASH – Mz Jones you come across as TRASH!

  14. John Lord

    “It is said of pornography (and I am not expert in this field) that in order to maintain the viewers interest it needs to progressively become more outlandish – more tantalising – more seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning and more enticing. And in their desire to maintain some dominance,that’s exactly what main stream media is doing. It has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant”

  15. el gordo

    The Daily Terror specialises in yellow press, always has. Their support for the conservatives is acceptable behaviour in a democracy.

  16. el gordo

    ‘A LEAKED election battle plan has revealed Labor’s list of target seats across NSW for the 2013 poll and sparked accusations Julia Gillard is sugar-coating an electoral bloodbath.

    ‘Obtained by The Sunday Telegraph, the ALP’s list reveals the seats Labor will try to win from the Opposition or hold for Labor by throwing cash and manpower their way. Nationally, there are 25 ALP and Liberal seats regarded as the most marginal, must-hold or vulnerable to attack.’

    Sam Maiden (Tele)

  17. stevefoypl

    el gordo wrote “Their support for the conservatives is acceptable behaviour in a democracy.”

    Wrong, this is not acceptable behaviour for ANY publisher under the banner of ‘News’. News should be news not disinformation, lies, slander or opinion. It should be based on facts, truth and objective evaluation and to do otherwise is an insult to the few hard working professional journalist that still adhere to the Industry’s code of conduct and ethics.

    If you want to write and publish crap that’s fine, but don’t pretend it’s news.

  18. 730reportland

    Gobble it up gordo, sideshow Sam can`t even get book reviews correct. lt`s in support of global cooling theory.

  19. Ricky (Tory Torcher)

    Well I have a far better source than the tele and there is no question whatsoever that Rudd is working the numbers, confirmed by a senior source. Then again he has never stopped. He may pick up a couple more. So the tele must be going berko.

    Usual opinionated blah from the factless troll, no fact just same old yawn.

    Let me see, Awesome economy, NBN, NDIS, Health reform, Murry Basin, Low Unemployment and a 1 billion $ initiative for manufacturing

    an inquiry into childcare
    and Dams.

  20. 730reportland

    actually stevefoypl, l know it`s hard to believe, but gordo`s actually correct (for-once)

    acceptable technically under law, codes of conduct and various regs, with watchdogs that have lost their dentures, the blowback is the embedded media has lost `consumers` and credibility

  21. 730reportland

    Ricky, do you really think Joolya`s heading for a knifing.?

  22. Crash Skeptic

    And I find it odd that when Kevin Rudd does come out and publicly state that he’s not interested in a challenge that it appears in news.com without an author referenced. What’s the matter? Can’t Murdoch find any journalists prepared to but their name to a story that might have some truth about it?

    Miglo, the reason there is “no author referenced” is because News did not write the story.

    The “reference” you are looking for is the “AAP” next to the headline and date, which refers to Australian Associated Press (a different organisation).

    There’s nothing unusual going on there.

  23. Crash Skeptic

    Miglo, the “Ides of March” article you object to actually has a high-profile named source that you neglect to mention…

    Chief Government Whip Joel Fitzgibbon, a key supporter of Mr Rudd, said caucus had only recently been cautioned by Ms Gillard about leaking to the media.

    “Journos are going to be pretty busy if MPs are now going to adopt the practice of passing them on to the media,” he told the ABC.

    “The caucus has recently been counselled about this type of behaviour and I’m disappointed by it,” he said, referring to Ms Gillard’s recent comments at a caucus meeting.

    If leadership speculation and leaking is just a “Murdoch empire” beat-up, why is

    Fitzgibbon saying he’s disappointed in his fellow MPs?

    Anyway here’s a few articles mainly from Fairfax pointing out Gillard’s troubles. So dismissing it all as a devious plot by the “Murdoch empire” really doesn’t stand up to scrutiny,



    And this is interesting. Tony Abbott’s supposed “women problem” apparently isn’t much of a problem…



  24. el gordo

    ‘If you want to write and publish crap that’s fine, but don’t pretend it’s news.’

    Fairfax supports the left in the same way as Nooze supports the right.

    We need only look at the different approach to CC for a clear distinction. News gathering can be legitimately one sided/

  25. Ricky (Tory Torcher)

    730 land my very credabile source has confirmed he is in play, if he manages the numbers it will go down in March. There are defections. My guess is no but, stranger things have happened 🙂

  26. Ricky (Tory Torcher)

    Crash listen very closely to Kevins language. 🙂

  27. higgs boson

    It’s an excellent demonstration of how an article should be dissected to expose its bias. I was taught this method decades ago by an outstanding English teacher when I was in high school. I will never forgot him informing the class that if a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency.

  28. Tom of Melbourne

    Once a few ALP MPs consider the possibility that they may save their careers by returning to Rudd, the change is quite possible.

    With half the caucus likely to get tossed out, there is bound to be plenty of backbench gossip about the performance of Gillard and Swan, and I’d like someone who ‘blames the media” to explain why it is undesirable for the media to report on backbench disaffection with Gillard and Swan.

    Rudd clearly remains a popular politician, and personally his return would send a signal to the backroom union hacks and factional power brokers that they can’t just run the ALP as their plaything.

    Returning to Rudd opens the possibility of reform of the ALP without the interim step of decimation at the polls.

  29. el gordo

    Not sure the party can be saved with Rudd, but it will reduce the carnage.

  30. andyrob

    I still wan’t to know what Abbott and the LNP’s policies are. Zilch at the moment. MSM, start pressing him/them FFS.



  31. Crash Skeptic

    Andyrob wrote:

    I still wan’t to know what Abbott and the LNP’s policies are. Zilch at the moment.

    Two very specific and popular policies are:
    – Abolish the carbon tax.
    – Bring back the Howard-era “Pacific Solution” policies for dealing with boat people.

    You may not agree with these policies. You may very well hate these policies.

    But pretending these policies don’t exist is a bit silly.

  32. el gordo

    CS is correct, these are the two biggest issues of interest to the electorate.


    Miglo do yourself a favour and put up guest posts from among the blog’s intelligent and prolific commenters …. they are the future journalists of the 5th Estate.

  33. andyrob

    Ah, not so sure about popular “- Abolish the carbon tax.” and it is a carbon price, do your research. It appears to be doing what it is supposed to.

    Don’t care about the boat issue, more come in by plane I have read previously not a biggy, but I do know that if the LNP were to work together with Labor and all other members, there may be a better solution. It should be a bipartisan solution. Stop playing politics on it.

    Any others, where? Oh turn back the best infrastructure project this country has ever seen, creating thousands of jobs and providing every Australian with modern technology, that will be needed in the very near future (try running 4ktv through Turnbulls crappy ad hoc system that those on existing HFC will get bypassed)

    Chaos: Coalition a total shambles on NBN policy

  34. Tom of Melbourne

    So why is it not in the public interest to report all the political manoeuvring by ALP politicians when Conroy is confirming that it is happening.

    Communications Minister Stephen Conroy told reporters in Tasmania that there was ”a lot of careless chatter going on” last week within Labor ranks.
    This included ”muttering in corners” and backgrounding journalists.
    ”If you’re self-indulgent, the Australian people will mark you down,” he said.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/political-news/poll-a-wakeup-call-for-labor-20130218-2elwl.html#ixzz2LDIPZ1tO

    It is no use blaming the media for the woes of the government, they chose to put themselves exactly where they are.

    When Rudd was knifed, the polls had him in front 52-48 2P, it’s proof of the stupidity of the coup, but fortunately, the chief assassin, Paul Howes, is all over the media (yet again) saying how much he will help the government in the campaign.

    That’s probably not very helpful for Gillard – it will remind the electorate of the types that pull the strings in the ALP, and their role in installing her as Prime Minister.

  35. andyrob

    What others????

    Ok there are three. yipee..

    My point is MSM should be pushing them but don’t. They just keep throwing mud at Labor and the PM. You can NOT deny that but you will….

    Oh also look at how much muck they throw at the NBN, even blaming it for things out of it’s control.

    Not absolutely everything is the NBN’s fault

  36. Crash Skeptic

    Andyrob wrote:
    Ah, not so sure about popular “- Abolish the carbon tax.” and it is a carbon price, do your research.

    No Andyrob, you do your research.

    Australia has had a carbon tax since July 1, 2012.

    It’s current price is $23 per tonne. This is due to rise to $24.15 per tonne in

    2013-14, and then $25.40 per tonne in 2014-15.

    It is not due to be replaced by an ’emmission trading scheme’ until 2015-2016.

    But right this very second, we have a carbon tax.

    Seriously, the inability of you guys to speak honestly and accurately about even the most basic, straight-forward things is mind-boggling.

    Don’t care about the boat issue

    So what. You claimed they had no policies (“Zilch at the moment”) and you were wrong.

    I repeat – you may not agree with these policies. You may very well hate these policies. But pretending these policies don’t exist is silly.

  37. andyrob

    Oh shit no woes in the LNP!!


    The whole #ashbygate thing has just disapeared. What the? The JUDGE found a conspiracy. Why don’t they push on this and REPORT NEWS! Probably the biggest NEWS event in Australia’s history and deathening silence. This is a kin to Watergate, you know it but you will disagree!!!

    I know, it is LNP with the issue we won’t go there. Wake up MSM.

  38. el gordo

    ‘Seriously, the inability of you guys to speak honestly and accurately about even the most basic, straight-forward things is mind-boggling.’

    Indeed, but they are good at ad homs.

  39. patriciawa

    Spot on, Miglo. And they wonder why they can’t give newspapers away these days!

  40. reb

    Does anyone actually read the Daily Telegraph anymore…??

  41. Treeman

    el gordo
    February 18, 2013

    CS is correct, these are the two biggest issues of interest to the electorate.

    Miglo do yourself a favour and put up guest posts from among the blog’s intelligent and prolific commenters …. they are the future journalists of the 5th Estate.

    February 18, 2013

    ‘Seriously, the inability of you guys to speak honestly and accurately about even the most basic, straight-forward things is mind-boggling.’

    Indeed, but they are good at ad homs.

    Hear Hear!

  42. paul mitford

    Murdoch pays his hacks to write utter codswallop on toilet paper, which he uses to wipe his hairy bum, the wipes the hacks’ faces in it. Paul Mitford, Sydney.

  43. toiletminorpissigloo

    I think it’s admirable that there is a bit of serve & return from each side here.

    People don’t learn anything by being in furious agreement with all those around them. Rather, their opinions evolve & strengthen via interaction with intelligent opposition.

    Nice to see both sides being thrown into the cauldron. Bravo, miglo. 😉 🙂

    Although, admittedly, based upon this thread alone (& not having read any others) the one-eyed (and that’s not to say all of them are one-eyed, by any means) leftists are a bit screechy. Maybe because they may have been used to having it all their own way previously.

    Honestly. I’ve always sneered at the likes of the Boltblog for the mindless, nasty, reflexive retorts heaped upon anyone straying from an ‘I-kiss-Andrews-arse’ regimented thought pattern…but, here’s the thing, like it or not, many exclusively leftist internet sites are very similar…in that they can’t recognise a mindless rightard drone from an intelligent dissenter who is neither an Abbottlicker nor a Gillardsniffer.

    So, once again, applause to the aspirations of this site as stated.

    and Port looked ok yesterday 😯

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